Specimen self-collection for SARS-CoV-2 testing: Patient performance and preferences-Atlanta, Georgia, August-October 2020

PLoS One. 2022 Mar 9;17(3):e0264085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264085. eCollection 2022.


Self-collected specimens can expand access to SARS-CoV-2 testing. At a large inner-city hospital 1,082 participants self-collected saliva and anterior nasal swab (ANS) samples before healthcare workers collected nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) samples on the same day. To characterize patient preferences for self-collection, this investigation explored ability, comfort, and ease of ANS and saliva self-collection for SARS-CoV-2 testing along with associated patient characteristics, including medical history and symptoms of COVID-19. With nearly all participants successfully submitting a specimen, favorable ratings from most participants (at least >79% in ease and comfort), and equivocal preference between saliva and ANS, self-collection is a viable SARS-CoV-2 testing option.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Female
  • Georgia
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharynx / virology
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • Saliva / virology
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Viral

Grants and funding

Funding was provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and CDC Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.